Apophis, the asteroid which is expected to pass close to Earth in 2029, 2036 and REAL CLOSE in 2068, is gaining speed --- thanks to the sun, according to astronomers from the University of Hawaii. It’s known as the Yarkovsky Effect. The side of an asteroid facing the sun is warmed by sunlight and gives it a bit of a thrust. This small change in its orbit has greatened its possibility of an impact with our planet in 2068.

How big is Apophis? Its estimated diameter is between 1,115 and 1,214 feet (about the size of 3.5 football fields) and blasting through space at around 19 miles/second...but it's speeding up. According to the astronomers at the U of Hawaii, it’s drifting more than 500 feet per year from its orbit thanks to the sun.

Asteroid Apophis, which was first discovered in 2004, has a short orbit around the sun, only 323 days, so it comes around for a visit quite often. (Compared to our 365 days) On the night of March 5, 2021, the asteroid will pass around 10.5 million miles from our planet --- about 44 times the distance to the moon.

It will again buzz by Earth on Friday, April 13, 2029. This time it will be MUCH closer -- around 23,000+ miles --- just 10% the distance that we are from the moon. It will be so close that some locations on the planet will be able to see it with the naked eye. (about as bright as the stars in the Little Dipper)

Although the probability of an impact from asteroid Apophis for 2029 and 2036 has been ruled out, but thanks to the sun, there might be a very small chance of impact in April 2068.

Tap HERE to see an animated path of Apophis.

 

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https://earthsky.org/upl/2019/04/asteroid-apophis-2029.gif